|Logo of the ICC|
I was a professor at the American University in Cairo during the year of Revolution (2011). I loved all my students, and I have taught a leadership class there every summer since. But one thing I noticed is that Egyptians do not know how to have a conversation. I love you guys, but every small dispute becomes a shouting match. Parliament is dismissed, and Tahrir has become the parliament of the streets. One thing I love about Kenyans is how calm they are. Perhaps it is innate, and perhaps it is the British influence, but Kenyans are generally a reserved and controlled people.
One of the issues that is really raising temperatures in the post-election environment is the debate about the Hague.
One of my good, helpful ICT colleagues whom I respect enormously said to me
"the fact that the new President is in the Hague should be the main
focus of ALL press coverage!"
|TNA Campaign Poster in Kikuyu (photo credit the author)|
And my beloved GA wrote (I requested her views on this matter) states
"I think it's ridiculous that the main political figures have charges as severe as "crimes against humanity." During the second debate [the candidates] spent quite a bit of time talking about everyone's numerous acts of corruption and it was quite frustrating to see everyone complacent. "Eh, it wasn't as bad as it sounds, or that was the other prime ministers."[ .. . ] Not to say that politics/ politicians aren't similar everywhere, but it seemed so blatant. I chew on how severe the phrase sounds (and in reality should be: the charge is): crimes against humanity. It seems like something out of a science fiction novel. So yes, the fact that people were worried of whether or not Ruto and Kenyatta would be "distracted" by the court hearings and whether they could run the administration from Skype is a slap in the face to how serious these charges are, or should be. If Odinga should have been charged too, then yes, it's ridiculous that he was running [ . . . ] I saw articles talking about how citizens had amnesia. Apparently!"
Then Gathara reminds us of this point. Gathara's World
We had already normalized the abnormal, making it seem perfectly acceptable to have two ICC-indicted politicians on the ballot. At the first presidential debate, moderator Linus Kaikai had been more concerned with how Uhuru Kenyatta would “govern if elected president and at the same time attend trial as a crimes against humanity subject” and not whether he should be running at all. Any suggestion of consequences for Uhuru’s and William Ruto’s candidature had been rebuffed with allegations of neo-colonialism, interference and an implied racism. People who had spent their adult lives fighting for Kenyans’ justice and human rights were vilified as stooges for the imperialistic West for suggesting that the duo should first clear their names before running for the highest office in the land.
|Uhuruto Poster in English (photo credit the author)|
So my question to the audience is, given that the Kenyan people elected two persons who have been indicted by the ICC, how do we move forward? Kenyans have spoken. Even if the court decides that there were serious election violations, and that a runoff is needed, Kenyatta won by a large margin. Kenyans may be wrong, but this is what they decided. Now what?
The last line of a recent Jeffrey Gettleman piece in the New York Times caught my attention.
Now that the two have won, many supporters wonder why the International Criminal Court cases are even necessary.
“If Uhuru and Ruto have succeeded in reconciling warring communities, isn’t that the point?” asked Edward Kirathe, a real estate developer. “What other interest does the I.C.C. have?”